This week’s column begins with reviews of two new CDs from mostly new-to-me artists. After that, I’ll review a DVD/Blu-Ray release that celebrates the 50th anniversary of a groundbreaking album.
‘Pony Show,’ Heidi Lynne Gluck (Lotuspool Records, ☆☆☆☆1/2)
Thanks to a helpful publicist, I have a burned copy of this Aug. 26 debut album from Kansas City singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Heidi Lynne Gluck, who is also a producer.
The recording centers on mostly piano-driven pop rock of a bygone generation and Gluck’s straightforward unassuming vocal delivery. Her musical cohorts, if they’re part of this album, add drums, bass, guitars and more. Her Facebook page provides some nifty live shots but no names.
Favorite tunes include the hooky and slide guitar-adorned title song, the New Wavy “Mercury Rising”; the domestically subversive “Better Homes & Gardens”; and the gorgeously orchestrated “Wolf.”
This is a great album for fans of “perfect world hits” and piano-backed old-school pop.
‘Greenleaf: The Gospel Companion Soundtrack, Vol. 1’ Various Artists (Malaco Records, ☆☆☆1/2)
This Aug. 26 soundtrack features some artists familiar to me (Mavis Staples and The McCrary Sisters), some who aren’t (Deborah Joy Winans and Melinda Doolittle) and others I’m not sure about. Oprah Winfrey is pictured on the front because “Greenleaf” is a TV show on the OWN network.
Favorite tunes are the show’s theme, “The Root,” featuring Staples, “(God Bless The) Broken Road” (a country song in gospel mode sung by Winans), the McCrarys’ cover of Bob Dylan’s “Ring Them Bells,” Doolittle’s slow-building “Say Something” and “The Master’s Calling.”
Most songs are too slow or in “choir plus lead vocal noodling” mode, but I enjoyed the ones mentioned. Give this acclaimed album an internet listen.
‘Classic Albums-Pet Sounds,’ The Beach Boys (Eagle Rock Entertainment, ☆☆☆☆☆)
This Sept. 23 DVD/Blu-Ray release celebrates the 50th anniversary of the groundbreaking album that Brian Wilson worked painstakingly on for months in late 1965 and early 1966 after he decided to stop touring with his brothers, cousin and friends in The Beach Boys. They were plenty surprised when they joined him in the studio.
The DVD opens with a review of The Beach Boys and Wilson’s early influences (Everly Brothers, Four Freshmen, Chuck Berry and more). It travels on to 1964, where Wilson was tiring of the road and feeling that The Beatles and other British Invasion groups were going to put The Beach Boys out of business.
Interviews with Wilson, lyricist Tony Asher (“God Only Knows”), Mike Love, Hal Blaine, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston and other folks shed a lot of light on the sessions, as well as Capitol Records’ initial lack of support for an album that has come to be viewed as a masterpiece.
Ricky Flake, music fan and former punk rocker, lives in Biloxi. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.